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Updated 6 December 2017

The first time I brought this up when speaking to a group of small business owners and solopreneurs their response is probably the same as yours right now:  Are you #%^*&^% kidding me? I don’t have the time as it is to post on just one site and you’re telling me to be on six or seven of them?

Before you think I’m completely off my rocker, there is a big difference between being ON every social media site and being ACTIVE on every site!

As Dustin W Stout has said, that isn’t smart:

It is crucial to be present on social media but don't commit to too many platforms. Start with one and be amazing at it. Then find the next one you can be amazing at without losing your momentum on the first.Click To Tweet

I could not agree more.

Be active where you can be amazing. Be present everywhere.

Why? 

1. SEO and Search results

You need to be found and reachable. The easier you make that for your clients, the more likely they are to find and contact you.

Limiting where you have social profiles creates limiting your accessibility. I get that your target audience might not use Google+, and still, setting up a page for your business does not take much time. Are you willing to risk losing a potential lead because you chose to ignore the site?

Consider that you likely belong to several networking groups and attend as many events as possible each week. Why do you do it? To be as visible as possible. The beauty of social media is the ability to be everywhere, constantly.  Think of it as social networking.

The accessibility piece – All of those profiles and pages create more opportunities for others to reach you. More website links, your email address and phone number in more places.

The do something more though. Every page or profile you create generates an indexed, searchable link in Google. Every link provides further visibility, will help you own SERPs for your brand name and can help compensate for a poorly optimized (think SEO) website.

Tactical Social Media social sites in SERPs; The SEO value of social profiles

A profile on every social media site is about increasing the odds of being seen and being easier to reach. Click To Tweet

2. Sales and Customer Service

– Your Audience

Let’s get one thing straight. The ‘experts’ are right. You must be present where your audience is present. The failure in the line of reasoning is the assumption businesses only have one audience. I hate to break it to you. You have at least three. So, even if you take the ‘expert’s’ advice, you need to apply it three times. I am willing to bet there will be some overlap BUT you will end up realizing it takes four or more sites to reach all three.

Your Buyer/Client

You would think this would be simple. I know who my buyer or client is. I know where they are active on social media. But you likely don’t.  Most business owners truly do not have an idea of where their core audience hangs out. Very few have built a complete avatar to know their perfect buyer or client. This leaves open the possibility of being wrong. THINKING your target is active on Facebook when it is really Twitter could mean wasting time and completely missing the mark.

And if your market changes or if you shift your focus and have a new audience? Seems much smarter to already have the infrastructure in place first.

Your Buyer’s Influencers

Sometimes the direct route isn’t the best. There was a reason toy companies advertised during Saturday morning cartoons and not the evening news. Kids weren’t buying the toys. Their parents were. Why target children then?

Do you really think Mom and Dad were going to pay attention to toy commercials? To think Micronauts were the best toy ever and their son had to have them? (I really did.)  Of course not!

They targeted me! I can still remember seeing commercials for toys I had to have, running upstairs to tell my parents…. only to be told no.  The point though is that I did tell them. It is sometimes easier to reach the influencer than the buyer. Sometimes the influencer has more sway. Sometimes the influencer actually makes the decision (I’ve been married. I know).

So how does this play out on social media?

What if you were selling a product or service to construction contractors? The buyer might be on LinkedIn and I would certainly reach out and send a personalized connection request. I would not expect to make a sale to them. Me? I would find the person whose job is directly helped by your product or service. Reach out and connect with them. If we are talking about the office manager, they are likely on Facebook, possibly Pinterest, Instagram, and SnapChat. (See where the Buyer Persona worksheet comes in handy?) Connect with them on those sites.

So why even connect on LinkedIn with the actual decision maker? Simple. Visibility and accessibility (it’s a theme of mine)! When the office manager brings your product or service to the decision maker, they are familiar with your name. That instantly adds a layer of trust and if you have been interacting. you already started to build a relationship. Your odds of earning the sale increase. When the decision maker has additional questions or is ready to sign, you are readily available where they want to connect.

Your Industry

Think back to the networking comment I made above. I can almost guarantee you are not joining groups and going to events where everyone is your potential client. You attend groups to build relationships with those who can get you in front of your buyer and for opportunities to partner with others. Why are you not using social media marketing the same way?

One of the greatest roles social media plays is in driving SEO. Building relationships with others in your industry provides a way to generate increased visibility for your content through social shares. Those same contacts who are sharing your content are likely writing their own, creating the opportunity for backlinks. The increased visibility through shares to audiences outside yours combined with these backlinks and even comments on the blog itself as a result work to drive traffic to your site (lead generation) and improved search rankings (when your clients come looking for you, you know you are visible).

– The Single Network Fallacy

The whole notion of concentrating your efforts on the sites used by those who make up your ideal customers is sound.  My concern arises from business owners failing to realize that while their target market may predominantly use one or two social sites, those individuals are more than likely active other sites as well.

A 2014 Pew Research Center study found 24% of online adults were active on two social sites and 16% used three.  The oversight of failing to recognize this multi-site usage means potential missed opportunities, both to reach your target market and, more importantly, be in a position to react and respond to them.

There COULD be overlap between all 3 audiences AND you could find 4 or 5 as prevalent. Failing to actively work to reach them on each network is shortsighted.

If I meet you at your office, how I discuss what I do, my approach and my demeanor will be far different than if we were at a bar or on the golf course. Sometimes it is the difference in how you say something or the atmosphere, comfort level. The message resonates more.

A presence on each site affords the option to reach your audience in different ways. It allows for increased opportunities for your message to be seen and heard!

Social media site useage, 2012 - 2014 by Pew Research

– Missed Opportunities

Think customer service. 

Joe is referred to you, heads to your retail location or website and makes a purchase. A few days later he has a question. He’s on Facebook – the platform you use as it’s the best place to reach that audience of yours – but he really doesn’t use it. He prefers Twitter. Guess what? If you do not have a presence on Twitter, Joe is forced to use Facebook,  email or call. Granted none of these options are difficult, but we live in an age of convenience. Make your customer resort to something they prefer not to use, make it difficult or uncomfortable for them and they may go elsewhere next time.

Think sales.

With a good social listening system, social media becomes a powerful tool for brand awareness, creating authority and, quite frankly, cold calling. You should be monitoring for specific sets of hashtags, keywords, and phrases. Focus on those which would be used when looking for information on, or for buying your product or service. Even if you never post, you could be monitoring for opportunities to help others with questions or to sell.

Heck. Monitor for your competitor’s brand mentions. You might even find opportunities they miss and potentially earn the future business!

3. Brand Reputation Management

Shit happens. No business is perfect. People talk. What’s more, they will talk where they are comfortable.

When it comes to social media, they will talk where they have influence. It makes no difference if you have a presence on that site or not.  You don’t need to be on Instagram to be the subject of a rant there.

If you’ve chosen to avoid Instagram under the premise you do not need it to reach your audience or have no idea how to use it, you will not be able to respond (even if your social listening system catches it).

Why be on every social site? You cannot respond to or address an issue if you don't have a presence. Click To Tweet

Catching that negative post quickly and responding to it quickly, could prevent it from going viral. More important, it provides an opportunity for you to address the issue.

How a company handles negative situations, especially in full public view, has a more profound impact on how they are perceived than the initial posted complaint.Click To Tweet

And If you are that ‘perfect’ company? (you’re not)

Your customers will be your best brand ambassadors. They will sing your praises, share your content and in some cases, go out of their way to respond to questions, inquiries, and even complaints on your behalf.  They may not (and quite honestly you hope they don’t) confine their praise only to sites where you have a profile.

And…. you better be aware of their posts about you and acknowledge them.  A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. It’s essentially how you’re paying them.

Failure to acknowledge a thank you on a social media post or comment is the equivalent of walking away when someone thanks you in person.

You would never ignore someone in person so, if someone takes the time to acknowledge or support you on social media, you had better take the time to thank them.Click To Tweet

4. Branding

What’s In A Name?

Plenty, if it’s yours!

There is this concept of branding, brand marketing, and the need for consistency. And it may be the best reason to be active on every social media site.It is vital to secure your handle and custom URL.

You may have no need for or interest in using Twitter or Facebook now, and if you do later, finding your own name is unavailable because of a squatter or worse yet, a competitor, grabbed it, the impact could be significant.

The Bottom Line

You can listen to the social media marketing ‘experts’ and focus only on where your buyer is active or you can look at the bigger picture, reaping all of the benefits and value social media offers you.

It is your choice.

Original publish date 27 October 2015

I have been working for myself in some capacity since the mid-80s. Marketing and branding are not new to me. Then I get to college and the whole concept of marketing got technical and messy. Even the definition of marketing itself…

…is confusing as hell. Does any small business owner understand it well enough to know what marketing really is? No. It’s why few understand that advertising is a form of marketing and not ‘marketing’

 

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

~American Marketing Association

What the hell kind of definition is that?

While ‘brand’ has been clearly defined and we intuitively know what a brand is, most of us have no clue what ‘branding’ is. The best definition I could ever find is something along the lines of ‘Branding is the act of creating your brand.” WTF?   Rule number one in my 8th grade English class – NEVER define a word or phrase with the same word or phrase!

How do you explain to your clients, in a way they understand, how you will help brand them if you cannot define the term?

Then there is the whole concept of brand marketing. Good luck finding a definition for that one. I tried. For years! I need one. I speak and consult on using content marketing and social media marketing (hint… I’m going there next) to market brands. Who is going to understand me, pay my rates (I am not cheap, experience and results come at a price), and hand me the keys to make it happen if they (I) don’t understand the concept?

So, with no definitions for either concept, not at marketing-dictionary.org or anywhere else I could find, I decided to write my own based on several decades of experience:

Branding is the practice of creating the look and 'feel' of your brand. Brand marketing is the practice of establishing your image, voice, and persona which identifies and differentiates you from your competitors. Click To Tweet

 

Adding some clarification

I shared these definitions to a couple of Facebook groups. Some of the feedback received:

“I’ve heard it is also what your customers say about you.”
Tamara Swinney Hanks, Hanks Designs

“…branding equals consistency as to how people see your business…”
Mike Willett, Unique Moments Photography

 

My response:

– Branding is not consistency. Branding is creating an identity. 

– Consistency drives awareness reinforcing the identity.

– Brand marketing is how you create awareness through consistency.

– Brand perception is how others see your identity. If perception is at odds with how you want to be known, your marketing and branding face planted.

 

So why does this matter to a social media marketer?

Content and social media, when used effectively, are your most powerful tools for brand marketing. All 3 concepts are intimately entangled. For me, anyone really, to create results for you, to teach you how to obtain results on your own, a deep understanding of branding, brand marketing (website development, SEO… ) is needed. And it needs to be something which can be explained to clients in a way they understand.

This is why you MUST work with professionals, not wing it, not hire interns.

 

Your brand is your most valuable asset and to leave ANY part of it (and your reputation) in the hands of someone inexperienced.....that's brand suicide.Click To Tweet

 

Contact us to get started and see what effective brand marketing can do for your brand.

 

Footnote: A big shout out and thank you to my friend Bridget Willard for her help wording my definitions.